Central/West D2 Track: South Hadley’s Jonas Clarke sweeps sprint titles

  • Above, South Hadley’s Jonas Clarke, second from left, crosses the finish in first place in the 100-meter dash during the Central/West Div. 2 Championship on Saturday at Lunenburg High School. Clarke broke the meet record with a time of 10.67 seconds. Below, Clarke leans at the finish line. FOR THE GAZETTE/DAN LITTLE

  • South Hadley’s Jonas Clarke, second from left, crosses the finish in first place in the 100-meter during the West/Central Div. 2 Championship on Saturday at Lunenburg High School. Clarke broke the meet record with a time of 10.67 seconds. FOR THE GAZETTE/DAN LITTLE

  • South Hadley’s Jonas Clarke, right, runs to a first place in the 200-meter during the West/Central Div. 2 Championship on Saturday at Lunenburg High School. Clarke finished with a time of 22.43 seconds. FOR THE GAZETTE/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier Regional’s Jack Vecellio competes in the 400 hurdles during the West/Central Div. 2 Championship on Saturday at Lunenburg High School. Vecellio finished in first place breaking the meet record with a time of 65.95 seconds. FOR THE GAZETTE/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier Regional’s Jack Vecellio competes in the 400 hurdles during the West/Central Div. 2 Championship on Saturday at Lunenburg High School. Vecellio finished in first place breaking the meet record with a time of 65.95 seconds. FOR THE GAZETTE/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier’s Alena Maes-Polan tied for second place with a height of 9 feet in the pole vault during the West/Central Div. 2 Championship on Saturday at Lunenburg High School. FOR THE GAZETTE/DAN LITTLE

  • Hampshire Regional’s Jillian Scott tied for second place with a height of 9 feet in the pole vault during the Central/West Div. 2 Championship on Saturday at Lunenburg High School. FOR THE GAZETTE/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier’s Amelia Sobieski competes in the shot put during the Central/West Div. 2 Championship on Saturday at Lunenburg High School. Sobieski placed eighth with a toss of 30 feet, 8.5 inches. FOR THE GAZETTE/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier’s Abigail Howard placed seventh in the high jump with a leap of 4 feet 10 inches during the West/Central Div. 2 Championship on Saturday at Lunenburg High School. FOR THE GAZETTE/DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer
Published: 6/20/2021 2:51:39 PM

LUNENBURG – Even though he wasn’t at his best, no one caught Jonas Clarke.

The South Hadley junior swept the boys sprints at Saturday’s Central/West Division 2 championships and set a meet record. He still wasn’t thrilled with his performance after setting his sights on a state record.

“With how tight this schedule was, the goal was to conserve and explode in the final. There wasn’t much recovery in between everything. It wasn’t a set up for my best race ever,” Clarke said. “I feel like kind of cocky and kind of bummy. But it’s nice knowing that something good came out of this.”

The event’s cramped schedule worked against him. Clarke started with the 200-meter dash at 11 a.m. He won that in 22.43 seconds, nearly a half second clear of his closest pursuer.

Afterward, Clarke needed to cool down for a few minutes before ramping back up for the 100-meter trials. He ran that only as fast as he needed to win the heat and make the final. Clarke was barely sweating crossing the line.

Without the typical breaks from distance or girls events – the distance events were contested Thursday, and girls events happened later Saturday – Clarke needed to ready his body for a 100 final quicker than he would have liked.

“With 15 minutes to sit down, stand up and start running again, it was not my ideal situation,” he said.

When the final rolled around at 12:15 p.m., no one could match Clarke. He won in 10.67 seconds. Second place crossed in 11.23. It set a meet record, lowering his own mark of 10.89 from 2019.

“You can’t complain for a meet record,” South Hadley coach Nick Davis said.

But it wasn’t a state record. It wasn’t even his season best. The record of 10.4 was set in 1981. Clarke first threatened it at the Lou Tozzi Coaches Invitational in early June by running 10.45 – the fastest automatically timed 100 in state history.

“We’re now at the point where every detail with him is so important, and he knows it,” Davis said. “We can’t call it a loss, but we’re now looking for the bigger and better times. We’re super happy with what he did, but he’s definitely chasing more.”

Clarke could run both events at next week’s All-State meet if he wanted. Qualification standards vary by event. In running events 200 meters and shorter, the top four finishers advance. The top three go in the rest. Then the field will be filled to 24 with the remaining best sectional performances.

Two will progress from field events other than the long jump, which will send the top three. The leftover spots up to 16 will be filled by the top sectional performances, except for the long jump, which will take 24.

He said he’ll likely opt out of the 200 to dedicate his focus and energy to the 100 and the state record.

“With that 100 field, I think it’s my best option,” Clarke said. “Stick with the (100) and those kids to just push me during those first 60 meters of the race, which I know I need.”

Frontier Regional’s Jack Vecellio set his second meet record in the 400-meter hurdles. After clearing 14 feet in the pole vault Thursday, Vecellio won the hurdles in 65.95 seconds. The previous record was 56.34 by Sutton’s Jason Dimmick in 2014.

“It’s the best way to build confidence going into states,” Vecellio said.

Vecellio came out strong and wanted to pass the runner ahead of him in the staggered start before the first hurdle. As he rounded the halfway mark, his dad Andy Vecellio yelled “Twenty-five” at him. That elicited a “let’s go” from the Redhawks junior on the track. He wanted to hit that mark at 26 seconds.

The home stretch proved a greater challenge. A headwind over the final 100 meters forced him to completely empty the tank to stave of his pursuers.

“I heard someone yell ‘he’s gaining on you,’ and that’s when I really locked in,” Vecellio said. “That was killer with the headwind. I had to give everything to not fall apart going out so hard.”

Frontier’s Jackie Phong booked an All-State spot in the discus. He placed third on Saturday at 43 feet.

Hampshire Regional’s Josh Denoronha didn’t directly qualify for All-States in the high jump, but his 5-10 mark may get him there after a fourth-place finish.

Belchertown’s Sam Hunt took sixth in the 100 hurdles (17.02).

Plumer locks in to reach personal best 

Apparently Grace Plumer just needed to practice. The Hampshire Regional junior dialed in on the high jump this week after missing much of the previous few sessions to appear in the school’s musical.

It paid off, as she cleared five feet for the first time all year and placed second after entering the event seeded seventh.

“It was a huge confidence thing,” she said. “It caught me off guard. I’m super excited, I got this huge adrenaline rush.”

Greenfield’s Victoria Marin won the event at 5-2.

In the pole vault, Hampshire’s Jillian Scott and Frontier’s Alena Maes-Polan tied for second at nine feet. That result produced different reactions.

Maes-Polan was frustrated after being one of the top seeds with a 9-6 mark along with Mahar’s Sienna Moore. Moore cleared 10-4 to win.

“I had trouble choosing between two poles. I didn’t know which one to choose. I chose wrong,” Maes-Polan said. 

Scott cleared nine feet consistently all year. Keeping that mark worked for her if it meant continuing to the All-State meet.

“I love pole vault so much. I’ll pole vault whenever, and I’m glad I get another week of it,” she said. “I’m good with this. Obviously I’d love to go higher, but as long as I’m not going backwards, that’s all I can ask for.”

Fellow Raider Bri Salomao secured a spot at All-States by finishing third in the triple jump (33-8).

Belchertown’s Natalie Shaw took ninth in the 400 (1:04.6).


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